The Maroons (14–8, 8–3 UAA) will put their five-game unbeaten run on the line with weekend conference games against Carnegie Mellon (11–11, 2–9) and Case Western (9–13, 3–8). Having played six of their previous eight games on the road, the South Siders will relish the opportunity to conclude their season with three games at home, with plenty left to play for in terms of postseason considerations. The team seems to be placing emphasis on each individual game, trusting that if they can do that, their fate will be in good hands.
“We can only control the controllables right now, and as long as we do that, things will take care of themselves. We have a group that is hungry to get back to the tournament so that’s been a motivator all season,” said head coach Carissa Sain Knoche, who is in her second year at the position.
Friday’s game against Carnegie will be a rematch of their game on January 24, when the Maroons left Pittsburgh with a comfortable 88–69 victory. After starting the season 11–6, Carnegie Mellon has slumped to five consecutive defeats, but Chicago will be well aware of what its offense is capable of. In the January game, Carnegie first-year forward Lisa Murphy made an impressive double-double with 22 points and 14 rebounds while also blocking four shots, and third-year guard Gabrielle West added 21 points. Whether the rest of the Tartans will be able to keep up with Chicago’s offensive dynamism depends largely on how well the supporting cast assists these two players, who lead the Tartans’ offense with 18.9 and 13.3 points per game, respectively.
On Sunday, Case will visit Ratner for a rematch of their earlier game at the Veale Center in Cleveland, where Chicago pulled out an 80–66 victory. While Case’s offense is only putting up 62.6 points per game, compared with Chicago’s 77.9, they will look to depend on fourth-year guard Julie Mooney and second-year forward Laura Mummey. This duo has risen to the occasion against quality opponents, including scoring 37 combined points, securing 14 rebounds between them, and blocking eight shots in their earlier overtime loss against NYU. Case will certainly be the underdog heading into the game, but if these two can have a big day and find a way to limit Chicago’s perimeter shooting, look for it to be an interesting game.
With the end of the regular season in sight, Chicago can take pride on how much the program has progressed in the past few months, but they realize their work isn’t done quite yet.
“One of our goals from the start of the season was to make it to the tournament, so this possibility has been on all of our minds since October.… That being said, every game remaining is just as important as the next, and we know we can’t overlook a single opponent,” said third-year guard Ellie Greiner.
The game against Carnegie Mellon will tip off at 6 p.m. on Friday at Ratner, while the Case game will begin at 2 p.m. on Sunday.